I was running late when I arrived at our church for the worship service last Sunday, so I quietly slipped in the back door and chose the first seat available. It was on the other side of the auditorium from where my husband, James, and I usually sit when he isn’t out preaching somewhere. This location on the “outer fringes” would not have suited him, but since I was alone, and, as I said, trying not to disturb others with my late arrival, I scooted into an empty row of seats just as the worship leader began leading the congregation in a praise song.
Within seconds, though, a middle-aged couple in front of me caught my attention. I wasn’t acquainted with them, but I could tell, by the way they sang the praise choruses with familiarity and enthusiasm, they were probably regular churchgoers. At one point during the singing, the husband looked over, smiled at his wife, and slipped his arm around her waist. She, in turn, patted his hand. Their loving gestures seemed to demonstrate a worshipful delight at sharing this experience together.
As I observed their obvious love for the Lord and for each other, it made me smile, and I felt blessed.
At the beginning of the second song, the couple’s son and daughter-in-law joined the couple, appearing to apologize for their late arrival. Although I was just guessing at their relationship, the “son” was the exact height and spitting image of his “dad,” so I felt safe in making this assumption. As soon as the younger couple unashamedly greeted the older couple with hugs and kisses, they too joined in singing the worship songs.
As I observed their outward affection toward one another, it made me smile, and I felt blessed.
As soon as the pastor began his sermon, all four individuals opened their personal Bibles and followed along as he read the Scriptures. Each one wrote down in the worship folder the different points the pastor was emphasizing in his message. When the pastor made a humorous remark about families in his talk, the four of them looked at each other and laughed, whispering back and forth for a moment as they enjoyed the joke together.
As I observed their attentiveness and serious approach to the hearing of God’s word, it made me smile, and I felt blessed.
On my way home from church, I thought about how four ordinary people had been a blessing to me. They were not Hollywood glamorous or especially attractive from a physical standpoint. Their clothes were not expensive or fashionable. None of them spoke any words of wisdom to me or gave me any spiritual insight.
Yet, they blessed me because they were expressing their love for each other and their love for God in the midst of worship, exactly the kind of blessing God Himself surely loves to receive.
“Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together!” Psalm 34:3
All of us have a story. It may be your parenting story, your pregnancy story, your career story or the story of your life. For as long as I can remember, I’ve enjoyed hearing someone’s salvation story–the details surrounding how a person came to faith in Christ.
When we lived in Indiana back in the late 1980’s, the editor of our denomination’s weekly state paper, The Indiana Baptist, asked me to do a weekly column on a different individual each week, emphasizing the details of their conversion experience. I decided to call the column “A Story To Tell.”
My husband’s job at that time was in Baptist missions, and we travelled to a different church in Indiana every week. Since we usually arrived at the church at least an hour before he was to preach, I had time to seek out a friendly man or woman, get their permission to record our conversation, and then ask them to tell me their salvation experience. After the interview, I would write down our conversation in a story format.
While all the stories culminated in the person becoming a born-again Christian, each convert’s circumstances were unique. However, after several months of writing salvation stories, I sensed a common thread in each experience. It was the way God used a friend, a neighbor, a relative or even a stranger to draw the unsaved person to Christ.
An example of this was a young man who had not been brought up in the church, knew nothing of the Lord and was planning on becoming a professional golfer. One evening, when he was about to enter a nightclub to enjoy several hours of partying, he noticed a group of people carrying picket signs. They were protesting what was going on inside the establishment. One of the signs read “The wages of sin is death.”
For weeks the young man was haunted by these words, but he had no idea what they meant. However, after he followed his girlfriend’s suggestion to talk to a pastor, he was led to the Lord, and his life was forever transformed. I’m sure the man who picketed the nightclub that night, carrying a sign with the words from Romans 6:23 written on it, never realized his small gesture eventually made an eternal difference in someone’s life.
I’ve been asked to write these kinds of salvation stories once again. This time I’m writing them for Baptist Press, a daily news wire service. You can visit their website here. The most recent story I wrote demonstrates the importance of inviting someone to church. You can read it here: The K. J. Williams story.
What’s your story?
If you came to faith in Christ within the last three years, or you know of someone who did, please contact me. I’d love to hear the details and share your story with others. You never know how God might use your story to open the heart of an unbeliever to faith in Christ. Your story could become a part of someone else’s story.
One gorgeous spring day, my grandson and I were in my kitchen having a conversation about the nice weather. I pointed out to him that I had already put my patio furniture outside, and we would soon be able to plant a beautiful flower garden. He looked out the window at my weed-infested flowerbeds and replied, “But, Granny, your garden already looks good.”
In his eyes, the purple flowers produced by the weeds made a good-looking garden. While his assessment was delightful to me, I knew it was flawed because, having seen exquisite flowerbeds before, I recognized that, in its current state, mine was very ugly.
My grandson’s perception of what constituted a good-looking garden was skewed because his standards were minimal and based on limited knowledge. This same principle can be applied to an individual or a society when the perception of what is good or evil is based solely, or in part, on the thoughts, practices, and writings of fallen man and not on the standard supplied to us by God in His Word.
I believe my grandson will adopt a more stringent requirement for what constitutes a beautiful garden if he’s exposed to lovely flowers. In the same way, the more time we spend reading, studying, and meditating on God’s Word, the more our moral standards will be aligned with the standards God requires of us–made possible to all believers by His Spirit living within us.
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” 2 Timothy 3:16.